Astrobiology Education: Inspiring Diverse Audiences with the Search for Life in the Universe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


The search for life beyond the Earth is one of the most compelling quests of modern science. Astrobiology appeals to a wide audience, including those who might not otherwise be engaged with science. This chapter gives an overview of the modes of astrobiology education and outreach that operate in the United States. Astrobiology is one subfield of astronomy, but it has connections to geology, chemistry, biology, and even sociology. This interdisciplinary context creates both challenges and opportunities for educators. Starting with professional development, there are just a modest number of Ph.D., M.Sc., and B.Sc. programs in astrobiology. Most professionals who identify as astrobiologists were trained in one science discipline and learned other subject matter and skills as needed through their careers. For non-science major undergraduates, “Life in the Universe” is a popular niche class that is offered as a follow-up to an introductory astronomy course. Astrobiology is offered to worldwide audiences of adult learners in the form of a MOOC, or massive open online class. Examples of teaching and outreach materials are given, and it is a good bet that the demand for astrobiology education and outreach will increase strongly if scientists achieve their goal of detecting life beyond the Earth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAstrobiology
Subtitle of host publicationScience, Ethics, and Public Policy
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781119711186
ISBN (Print)9781119711162
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Astrobiology
  • degree programs
  • education
  • online courses
  • pedagogy
  • video lectures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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